Scream

Scream ★★★★½

SCREAM was instantly iconic with good reason. Not only did it fit the effective templates for a slasher film on the story side of production and low-budget & high-yield money-maker on the business side, but Wes Craven's teen horror addressed almost every element of filmmaking with a certain calculated value added.

Although young & hot as per the formula, this cast was a talented and highly experienced crew. Quirky characters are ramped up with charm (for example, David Arquette's Dewey is a unique horror film presence). The script intelligently ramps up several elements with a depth where these killing sprees don't typically go. The dialog is not only smart and witty, but its language of movie history makes SCREAM a underrated modern screenwriting marvel. It's loaded with film industry references--self-referential and otherwise that define what we're watching while we're watching it unfold. It verbatim explains the conventions while also transcending them. SCREAM also goes the extra step of creating a world for these characters--not simply cheap set of character traits or simpleton backstories. There's enough of a backdrop for these characters and the community that motives are well enough developed SCREAM becomes a full-fledged murder-mystery whodunit on top of the tense thrill-kill ride.

SCREAM also features a brilliant iconic villain. The scream slasher is a sneaky good killer icon. Unique appearance, but easy enough an outfit to be anyone. The villain is also hilariously clumsy in his attacks. Craven blocks the scenes with the killer falling and flopping all over the place--but he's still terrifying. The terror doesn't come from an unstoppability, it comes from an awkward, but dogged pursuit.

Craven works very well with top-notch cinematography from Mark Irwin. The film is largely brightly lit, and the killer isn't always in the shadows of a nighttime scenes. He pops up in the distance. Craven uses depth and distance rather than shadows for his creepy, unnerving set ups.

I hadn't seen this in years. So glad to have embraced this horror-weekend. Craven here seems to be having the time of his life. He's making a film about the films he loves while also making one of the best ever in the genre. SCREAM feels so perfect that it almost avoids feeling dated, which is a tall order for a film with historic scenes revolving around videostores and landlines.
A-

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